Last Winter (for Valentine’s Day actually), Chris surprised me with the perfect present – a weekend course to gain WSET Level 2 certification. (We took a gamble and skipped Level 1 since we knew a fair bit about wine.)
The course was run by the Napa Valley Wine Academy – a great outfit near downtown Napa. They had a couple different teachers rotate in through the two-day course and it was nice to hear the personal stories of why different people got into the wine biz.
The course itself was structured very well. Everything started with a basic understanding of how wine will impact food (salt, sweet, sour and umami) – and included a little taste test to bring it to life. For example, high acid foods with high acid wines like a Sauv Blanc. At first it seemed odd to start with food pairings, but it was the perfect primer on some of the basic flavor profiles in wine and how to identify them.
From there, we dove into topography and geography, and how they impact soil conditions and the sugar and acid balances in the wine. Chris and I joke a lot that “terroir” is an overused word when people are trying to sound wine-smart, but it really does have an impact.
And of course, we spent a bunch of time on the individual wine regions and notable wines from those areas. I’m still overwhelmed and confused the number of DOCGs in Italy – but convinced that one day I will learn them all.
And last came the test. For Level 2, it’s a series of multiple choice questions. Pretty straightforward, but like the nerd that I am, I studied the night before and crammed during lunch. I couldn’t risk embarrassment since Chris and I were going head to head. I’ll let you guess who came out victorious…